MONDAY: Sell –TUESDAY: Sell – WEDNESDAY: Sell...okay, you get the picture. The main goal of any sales rep is to SELL, SELL, SELL, but on top of that, you’ve got a list of tasks so long it feels like they could stretch into the next year. Call new leads and qualify them. Call existing customers to ensure they’re still happy. Do demos for new customers, then SOMEHOW still find time to make it to that important meeting this afternoon, and prepare for that big presentation tomorrow. It can seem like there’s just not enough time in the day to finish it all, but with some sneaky tweaks to your process, you can waste less time and improve sales productivity. (You can breathe a sigh of relief now.)
What is sales productivity?
Productivity is how efficient your efforts are; if the amount of effort put into something was worth the outcome. The goal of increasing sales productivity is to hit your targets while decreasing the amount of time, effort, and money it takes to meet them.
Productivity is one of the biggest challenges faced by sales teams. Couple that with a disjointed sales process and a lack of alignment with the marketing team, and you’re asking for trouble.
To streamline your work process, you need to eliminate any non-essential tasks from your daily routine. Whether you’re a go-getter or a procrastinator by nature, there is almost always room to increase productivity at work. If you’re not sure how to get started, try some (or all!) of the six tips below.
1. Stop multitasking
Multitasking seems like a way to do more, faster when in reality it’s a good way to do a lot of things poorly. Have you ever seen an Olympic athlete give a stellar on-camera interview mid-competition? No. To perform their best, the athlete needs to focus entirely on the task at hand.
Sales is no different. If you want something done well, it requires your full-fledged attention. What sales activities are critical to building your pipeline and closing deals? Clock time in your calendar to complete these activities, and fiercely protect this time – no interruptions, no procrastinating – just do it.
Focusing on the task at hand, fully, will help you perfect each facet of the job faster, allowing you to increase your performance.
2. Stop improvising
If you fail to prepare, you’re preparing to fail. When it comes to sales, preparation is necessary. If you’re a sales rep that chooses to “wing” every sales call, you’re not setting yourself up for success, which is a waste of time for both you and your prospect.
Whether you’re introducing your value proposition to a new lead, exchanging information to determine fit, or presenting a final proposal, you need to be on top of your game. Without understanding your client, having some background information on their business, or even reviewing what you’ve discussed with them in the past, you can miss key talking points and forget to bring up elements of your product or service that could positively impact their business.
Do your research and prepare talking points before going on a call or into a meeting. It will save you time, help you to better qualify your prospect, and ultimately shorten your sales cycle.
3. Give yourself some free time
You’ve probably heard it before: only people who “hustle” are successful – which is to say that only people who are willing to work 24/7, and be at their client’s beck and call are success stories. I don’t know who tossed that rumour into the mill, but it’s a horribly unhealthy mindset for any sales rep.
Not only does freeing up some time help increase your productivity, but it gives you time to reflect on obstacles you’ve come across in the sales process, and brainstorm ways to overcome them. Giving yourself some breathing room allows you to see things from a different perspective, and energizes you to tackle upcoming tasks you have on your plate.
When you have more spare time to think about challenges and how to prepare yourself for them, you’ll feel more confident speaking with customers, which will increase your performance.
4. Streamline workflow with sales automation strategies
Currently, only 35.2% of a sales reps’ time going toward functions related to selling, even though selling should take up the bulk of any salesperson’s time. The problem is, logging calls, writing emails, and prospecting are all necessary tasks that many sales reps do manually, which take up a considerable amount of time.
When it comes to increasing your sales productivity and streamlining your day-to-day routine, the quickest route is to automate tasks. Most sales departments use a CRM for data management, which is great for automatically logging email communication, but don’t stop there! Optimize other rich features available in your CRM, like creating email templates, customizing dashboards to keep track of KPIs, creating lead distribution workflows, and integrating apps to enhance your lead scoring.
They may just seem like part of your daily routine, but manually writing follow-up emails, outbound emails, and scouring the internet for leads is incredibly time-consuming. Your CRM is a great primary tool (check out how to choose the right CRM for you here), but explore other tools that can eliminate these non-essential manual tasks through automation. Tools like Campaign Monitor, which allows you to schedule automated emails to be sent based on your client’s actions, Hubspot, which helps you track open and click-through rates of your emails, and Toofr, which generates lead lists can all increase your efficiency literally at the click of a button.
Investing in the right tools may come at a cost, but it will help you and your team find more time to focus on selling to your ideal customers. Good automation tools can empower sales reps to exceed their targets by increasing efficiency. More free time is more time to sell (which equals more revenue!).
5. Get your sales and marketing teams aligned
Marketing and sales teams having a disdain for one another is a tale as old as time. In fact, in a survey done by Hubspot, 87% of the terms sales and marketing professionals used to describe each other were negative. Not exactly a fairytale friendship.
In many offices, sales and marketing teams have little communication with each other, which creates a silo effect, but marketing and sales teams need to be aligned to efficiently work toward the same goals. If you want to increase your sales productivity, you need to see your marketing colleagues as allies, not enemies, in the battle for better business.
Here are some things that marketing can provide to help save you time and make selling easier:
Data on where the strongest leads come from and what attracted them
Product videos to clearly explain how your product works
Blogs about new products or features and how they work
Case studies that highlight the success similar customers have had with your product/service
Demo webinar sessions
ROI reports that prove the value of your product through the success of your customers
Ebooks that provide advice
Having these materials on hand to share during your sales conversations highlights the value of your product or service, and shows the prospect that you understand their needs, and can provide a solution that works for them.
So, make friends with your marketing team, and you’ll increase your chances of closing more deals, faster.
6. Measure Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as sales productivity metrics
Tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can reveal trends in your selling, and provide you with insights into your sales activity – insights that can help you understand what strategies are working, what ones aren’t, and where your efforts are being wasted.
Measuring your sales in dollars is easy, but measuring how efficiently you’re selling is a bit more challenging. KPIs allow you to track your productivity, gains, and results – which may include tracking your open rate of various outbound emails to determine which one works best, testing how many prospecting emails and calls you need to make to generate a generous pipeline of qualified leads, the length of your sales cycle, and your close ratio – essentially showing you, on a dashboard, how efficient your sales process is.
For example, say you’ve spent the last week telling prospects about a new feature you’ve added, hoping your pitch would help increase your close rate. At the end of the week, you check your CRM and see no increase in the number of prospects that turned into paying clients. Rather than wasting time pitching the same way and getting nowhere the week following, instead, you rework your pitch to focus on features each specific prospect may find valuable.
By tracking your performance regularly, you can focus on areas that need improvement, as need be, to meet organizational goals faster.
With all that free time, get selling
With a million and one things on your plate, finishing them all successfully can feel impossible sometimes, which can lead to feeling discouraged and unmotivated. The secret to a happy, strong performance at work is all in your sales productivity.
Create more time by automating what you can, set yourself up for success by preparing for sales calls, and don’t shy away from other teams, like marketing, that can provide you with tools that can help you sell more confidently. Let the free time you’ve found in being more productive do the heavy lifting, and go get selling!